Grand Masters Address - 1958

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  1. Wingnut

    Wingnut Premium Member

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    Grand Masters Address
    Grand Lodge of Texas Annual Communication, 1958

    page 197, Recommendation 9 dues and fees

    9. Article 345 of the Grand Lodge Laws provide that:
    "The fees for initiation, passing, and raising shall be not less than Ten Dollars for each of the three degrees."
    This Law in substance has been in effect in this Grand Lodge since prior to 1856, for at that time the Sayles Masonic Jurisprudence of Texas, Constitution of the Grand Lodge, Article 5, Chapter 5, Section 17, the provided "The fees for initiation, passing and raising shall not be less than Thirty Dollars for the three degrees."
    Prior to this in 1839 a Committee was appointed by Grand Lodge to look into the matter of establishing "minimum" fees. Their report recommending the following was adopted Feb 2, 1840:
    Entered Apprentice $20.00
    Fellowcraft $15.00
    Master Mason $15.00
    On Dec 27, 1841 this was amend to:
    Entered Apprentice $15.00
    Fellowcraft $10.00
    Master Mason $10.00
    No further change is found until in the adoption of the new Constitution in 1856 the minimum was set at $30 for the three degrees, this minimum had then been in effect for several years and has been the "price" of Masonry since that time.
    At a time when wages were $1.00 or $1.50 per day the fees for the degrees were set at $30, or what was approximately one month's wages. This was a lot of money, but those old timers figured that if a man would not deprive himself of a few luxuries in order to afford the Masonic degrees, that he was not the type of man they were looking for. My Brother, how much do you earn per month? Would you consider that figure too high a price to pay for your masonry?
    The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania has a minimum fee of $105, the average fee is $150, and one Lodge in teh state charges a fee of $450.00. Pennsylvania has shown an increase in Masonic membership of 5,000 annually for the past 15 years, and last year passed the State of Illinois in total membership.
    It is most difficult to realize that this minimum of $30.00 for the Three Degrees of Masonry has been in effect for more than a century. The purchasing power of $30 in 1856 translated into today's equivalent would be at the very minimum in excess of $300.00. That many of our Lodges in Texas are not in comparatively good financial condition is an established fact and this under pricing of Degrees or "cheap" Masonry, is one reason for it. We talk much about bringing the proper type of man into our organization, the kind of man which will build Masonry and the community, with pleasure to himself and honor to the fraternity. The 1856 price schedule is certainly not in keeping with the importance and high aspirations of Masonry. It is recognized, of course, that many of the Lodges in Texas charge $75 and $90, and even as high as $100 for the Three Degrees. But the time has come when we must all recognize that our minimum standards should be raised in accordance with today's standards and with the present devalued condition of the dollar.
    I recommend, therefore, that Article 345 be amended to read as follows: "The Degree Fee for initiation, passing and raising shall be not less than $20 for each of the Three degrees."

    page 242, Grand Masters Recommendation No. 9

    Report of Committee on Purposes and Policies
    Presented by Past Grand Master Lee Lockwood

    Grand Master Recommendation No. 9
    Under this heading Grand Master states that on February 2, 1840, the report of a Committee to Grand Lodge was adopted which fixed the minimum fees of Constituent Lodges as follows:

    Entered Apprentice $20.00
    Fellowcraft $15.00
    Master Mason $15.00

    That on December 27, 1841, the foregoing was amended to the following extent:

    Entered Apprentice $15.00
    Fellowcraft $10.00
    Master Mason $10.00

    That no further change was found to have occurred until the adoption of the new Constitution of Grand Lodge in 1856, which provided that
    “The fees for initiation, passing and raising shall not be less than $30.00 for the three degrees.â€

    Grand Master further states that this Constitutional provision was carried forward in substance and embodied in our present laws as Article 345 which provides that
    “The fees for initiation, passing and raising shall be not less than $10.00 for each of the three degrees.â€

    Grand Master then recommends that Article 345 of the Constitution and Laws of this Grand Lodge be amended to read as follows:

    “The degree fee for initiation, passing, and raising shall not be less than $20.00 for each of the three degrees.â€

    From the foregoing it is seen that the $30.00 “price†of Masonry has remained the same for over 100 years even though the purchasing power of $30.00 in 1856 translated into today’s equivalent would be, at the very minimum in excess of $300.

    In 1856 when wages were approximately $1.00 to $1.50 per day, the fees for the three degrees amounted to $30.00 or approximately one month’s wages, where as today the fees amount to but little more than one day’s wages, and yet those good Brethren of yesteryear apparently felt that if a man could not deprive himself of a few luxuries in order to afford the Masonic Degrees, he was not the type of man they were looking for.

    While we recognize that a goodly number of our Lodges charge from $75 to $100 for the three degrees, yet such amount is no more than one week’s wages and that fact should not detract from the further fact that the time has very definitely arrived when we must recognize that our minimum standards must be raised to a point more nearly commensurate with today’s standards and the present devalued condition of our dollar and that it is imperative that this be done in order that many of our Lodges may be placed in a sound financial condition. It is a strange fact as regards the ordinary citizens of this country that that which is cheap is not prize or desired, while that which is expensive is sought for and prized and we feel that the “under pricing†of degrees or “cheap†Masonry is not conductive to bringing into our organization the kind of man which will build Masonry and the community with pleasure to himself and honor to the fraternity; certainly the “under pricing†of the degrees is not in keeping with the importance and high aspiration of our fraternity. We, therefore, recommend that Article 345 of the Constitution and Laws of this Grand Lodge be amended to read as follows:

    “The Degree fee for initiation, passing and raising shall not be less than $20.00 for each of the three degrees.â€

    And if Grand Lodge approves our recommendation then we suggest that this matter be referred to the Committee on Masonic Jurisprudence in order that it may draft such an appropriate amendment to our Laws as it may deem proper.
     

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